Thursday, March 06, 2014

Air India sacks 7 more air hostesses - reporting late for work, toll up to 17 in 9 days

NEW DELHI: Cracking the whip on erring cabin crew members who report late to airports and delay flights, Air India sacked seven more air hostesses on Tuesday — taking the number of those terminated to 17 in just nine days from February 24 to March 4. While 16 of these sacked personnel are air-hostesses, one is a flight purser.

The top management warns this number could grow unless everyone in the airline does their bit to ensure planes take off on time. "Factors beyond our control like technical glitches delaying flights can be understood, they have to be minimized too. But crew walking in when the like and keeping passengers waiting is unacceptable," said an official.

Air India (domestic) flights have among the lowest on time performance (DGCA) month after month in the figures released by the DGCA. Alarm bells started ringing in AI last month when the OTP of even the international flights fell to a mere 35% — which meant that 65% of the overseas flights were delayed — for some time. Among other reasons, instances of rampant crew indiscipline and crew reporting late for work figured high when an analysis for the unusually poorer-than-usual OTP last few months was done recently.

The other OTP killer is the Dreamliners' unending technical glitches on which the aviation ministry has so far refused to take any tough stand.

"AI has to join Star Alliance which has acclaimed airlines like Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa. Passengers transferring to or from these airlines expect a similar level of punctuality and service from us. We have no option but to be on time and delight the passenger with our services," said an official.

AI had on February 20 issued a general notice warning crew that if they do not reach airport in time to operate flights on time, the airline will take penal action against them — including terminating their services. Four airhostesses lost their jobs just days after this warning was issued. AI has 3,600 cabin crew.

This is the second time ever that the airline management has acted tough with its employees in a bid to improve performance. In 2002, the aviation ministry backed the management move to sack 99 pilots of Air India (erstwhile AI that operated wide body planes overseas) when they went on strike. It later took back all but 13 pilots despite all types of pressure on the management.

Of these 13, two went back to Air India Express on contract (instead of the regular employment they had earlier); eight went to AirAsia India; two to a new regional airline in south and one is still fighting to get his AI job back, said one of the sacked pilots.

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